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Sports Then and Now



10 Most Memorable Championship Breakthroughs in NBA History 6

Posted on June 14, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Dirk Nowitzki can now add the words "NBA champion" to his resume.

After 13 years in the NBA, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is finally a NBA champion.

But he is not the only great player to win a NBA title after years of heartbreak.

Here are the 10 greatest championship breakthroughs in NBA history.

This list is not solely based on the greatness of the player, but how many disappointments that player or players had to go through before getting that elusive championship.

With that said, here is the list:

10. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, 2008 Boston Celtics
In the summer of 2007, the Boston Celtics traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join mainstay Paul Pierce to lead the Boston Celtics back from the doldrums of the NBA.

“The Big Three” lead the Celtics on the greatest single-season turnaround in NBA history, as the Celtics won 66 games during the regular season after winning 24 games the previous season, and then advanced to the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games for the franchise’s first NBA championship in 22 years and the first NBA title for Allen, Garnett, and Pierce.

9. Hakeem Olajuwon, 1994 Houston Rockets
“Hakeem the Dream” took his place among the great centers to play the game as he led the Houston Rockets to the NBA championship in 1994.

In a match-up of All-Star centers who had never won a NBA title, Olajuwon dominated Knicks center Patrick Ewing to win his first NBA title in his tenth NBA season.

“Hakeem the Dream” averaged 26.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game in the seven games and made the game-saving play at the end of Game 6 in which he blocked John Starks’ potential game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds, to preserve a Houston victory and force a Game 7, where he scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to clinch the title for the Rockets.

One year later, Olajuwon and the Rockets won the title again, this time giving Clyde Drexler his first NBA title after 12 NBA seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Stan Jones

      The Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was one of the great linemen of his era and is considered a trailblazer for using weight training and conditioning to develop his skills.

      After a standout career at the University of Maryland, Stan Jones spent nine seasons as an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, making seven Pro Bowl appearances and earning first team All-Pro three times.

      In 1962, assistant coach George Allen suggested Jones move to defense to help solidify that unit for the Bears. He played both ways in 1962 and then in 1963 moved permanently to the defense.

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